BBL facing 'fork in the road': Khawaja

·2-min read

Brisbane Heat captain Usman Khawaja believes Cricket Australia is facing a crucial time for the future of the Big Bash League as cashed-up overseas competitions take off.

South Africa's new T20 league, which is set to start in January in direct competition to the BBL, has received a huge funding boost with reports owners of Indian Premier League franchises have successfully bid to buy the competition's six teams.

A six-team T20 competition in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates is also scheduled to take place in January.

The emergence of those rival leagues has Khawaja concerned the BBL will get left behind unless Cricket Australia look to privatise the competition and allow investors to buy their way into franchises.

"I really feel like there's a fork in the road in the next year or two," Khawaja said.

"There's a lot of cogs that make the decisions but personally you shouldn't be afraid of moving the game forward even if that means that you let go a little bit on the reins.

"I come from the point of what's best for cricket.

"Privatisation - if it takes five years, six years, whatever to come - I might not be involved in the game, particularly. I won't be playing. It's not going to affect me.

"I'm not doing it from a personal point of view.

"I just think that's what is best for the game of cricket, to make it bigger, to make it better, for the Big Bash to grow.

"That is the easiest way to bring in that extra bit of financial remuneration for players ... to allow it to grow."

Khawaja said he'd spoken to overseas players who had not nominated for the upcoming BBL draft because they would instead choose to stay home over Christmas and then play in the UAE competition.

The Australian Test opener said if the BBL doesn't find a way to keep pace with rival leagues, it would only be a matter of time before it wasn't just the best overseas talent that the competition was unable to attract.

"The most important thing are the players," he said.

"That's what attracts fans. Not so much rule changes, innovations.

"If you're going to have 14 games like the IPL, the money's got to match, something similar, to get them over because we're asking them to come over during Christmas time, the holiday period, away from their family.

"Even for the players here, the local players, if the leagues start coming up in UAE, South Africa, wherever, what if a local player starts thinking 'well, I'm getting paid twice as much money to go play over there, why would I stay here in the Big Bash?'

"These are the questions we have to ask ourselves."

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